Dan J. Tomasulo PhD., MFA, MAPP

The Healing Crowd

Psychodrama, spontaneity & anxiety

The more spontaneous you are the lower your anxiety.

Posted Feb 04, 2011

At the core of psychodrama is a powerful premise: that spontaneity and anxiety are inversely related. Typically people think of this as knowing they will be more free to act once their anxiety is lowered, but, like a perfectly balanced see-saw, when one end is up the other is down, and vis-versa. Yes your spontaneity will rise when your anxiety is lowered, but the reverse is true. The more spontaneous you are the lower your anxiety. This is where using psychodrama and role-playing in therapy can have a tremendous asset in helping people overcoming anxiety.

A new solution to an old problem or an adequate solution to a new.

Jack was referred to me by a local therapist because he was anxious introverted and a recovering alcoholic. He tended to isolate and had a great many difficulties making friends, socializing and dating. In the group he was initially assigned auxiliary roles. He played the role in someone else's drama. After some time he was good at these prescribed roles and enjoyed being selected. He worked as a shift supervisor in a factory and had little interaction with people outside of his official job. In the group he learned he could be many kinds of people and experience different feelings in these roles.

Eventually he began having his own dramas. He was the protagonist setting up scenes, arranging the cast of players, and scripting the drama to work on in the group. In other words he moved from the audience role of watching other people's dramas, the acting in roles they prescribed to having hi own drama. According to Moreno, the founder of the first form of group therapy, Psychodrama, and the first person to coin the phrase "group therapy", the psychodrama group mirrors the developmental stages of growth. First we watch, then take prescribed roles in others dramas, and eventually have our own.

By the way, Moreno noted that in addition to the audience, auxiliary, and protagonist roles there is one final crowning achievement role we strive for: The director. Once we have enough experience and capacity for spontaneity we tackle the most challenging role of all: directing our own life.

So this is an encouragement to allow yourself in life, as we encourage in group, to be more spontaneous. The only thing yu have to lose --is your anxiety.

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